Geisha Waiting on a Boat Landing

Hanging scroll: ink and color on silk, 40 x 11⅝ in. (101.6 x 29.5 cm); ca. 1838‒40
Signed: Kōchōrō Kunisada ga
Artist’s seal: Kōgetsu senri (Under a clear moon, one can see for miles)

The low-lying districts to the east of the Sumida were bisected by numerous canals, drainage ditches and small rivers, permitting discrete access by boat to the restaurants and unlicensed geisha houses that dotted the area. Geisha bidding farewell to their clients or arriving at assignations became a well-known trope of beauty prints and paintings.

Here a geisha watches her departing client in the moonlight. She wears a black robe decorated with flowers around the hem and richly patterned obi whose ties fall behind her. On her feet her high geta, or clogs, are designed to keep her feet dry from the dampness of the ground. Behind her is the wall of the restaurant that employs her.  Above, the moon shimmers over rising clouds of mist.

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